4 posts in this topic

Part 1 - Reading the Water

Why is this important? If what lies below the surf waters was thoroughly understood and embraced, the more success the surf fisherman would have at catching fish! Sounds simple, but truth is reading the water is difficult.

So what is below the surf waters? Well, certainly there are fish, we already know this...and for many of us that is all that needs to be known... So, for those so inclined, I guess reading the water is not a prerequisite to successfully catching fish... And there is some truth in this...a surf fisherman can totally disregard what the water is telling him, make a cast, and put a fish on the beach...happens all the time. Why? Because the fisherman more than likely, but unknowingly, had put his offering into the surf where there happened to be a fish... The question though is why was that fish there? Was it by random chance that the fish happened to be swimming by at that exact moment? Well yes, maybe...but the fish may have very well been there for other reasons...one of those reasons is what I will call the physical environment or "structure" of the surf waters or more precisely the structure of the sandy bottom of the surf waters that attracts game fish...

I'll address bottom fishing w/ bait along the sandy beaches of the the DelMarVa coast. Fishing the inlets, rock groins, piers and backwaters of the DelMarVa peninsula is a subject unto itself and perhaps can be discussed in another thread...

Our beaches for all intended purposes are typically very flat w/ a gentle incline. This beach structure is rather common up and down the east coast and is deceptively uninteresting at first glance. The following is a simplistic drawing of a cross section of the beach and surf...

beachfig2A.JPG

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Note, there are "generally" 2 main sandbars that run parallel to the beach...in the drawing they are labeled the outer and near shore sandbars... Also, there are "generally" 2 main sloughs (troughs) that too run parallel to the beach... The location of sandbars is revealed above the surf waters where waves initially crest and rollover...these crashing waves are called "breakers." The outer sandbar of course has larger breakers, while the near shore sandbar breakers are smaller... The sloughs also are revealed above the waters where there are little to no breakers. The next image is a picture of a typical looking surf on the DelMarVa coast...

sandbar1.JPG

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The above picture I took not for the waves but something else...let's see if any of you sharpies can identify what is going on...

Now that this basic surf structure is understood visually the next step is easy... Fish will frequent the sloughs in the surf, especially Stripers. They like to get as low as possible w/ their bellies virtually touching the sand as they cruise the sloughs...it is here they are most comfortable plus the slough gives them a certain degree of stealth as they move about looking for food... So, placing your offerings in the slough would be optimal as shown in the next image...

beachfig3A.JPG

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A less viable option IMHO would be to place the offering on the sandbar...if the slough does not produce fish I would considered placing the offering on the sandbar...but only during high tide and not at all on the near shore sandbar at low tide...the water would just be too skinny at that time and location...

 


 

Part 2 - Reading the Water

Lets look at another surf structure that probably accounts for more "fishy activity" than any other—the out-suck aka rip current aka hole aka riptide aka break in the sandbar, etc. Here is a drawing that depicts an out-suck...for simplicity purposes only 1 sandbar is shown...

ripcurrent1A.gif

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Note, not all "breaks in the sandbar" are out-sucks... This picture shows a wide break in the outer sandbar on AI...but there was no out-suck.

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structure1A.jpg

Remember, Stripers like moving water and current...here they are masterful and powerful swimmers, using their broad tails to maneuver about in the surf... So the area around an out-suck from the feeders, through the neck (channel) and out into the head is prime Striper habitat... Why? Because at the out-suck water is swirling about, forming a current to and past the outer sandbar wherein small bait fish can get swept up or caught in the dynamics of the moving water and ending up as easy prey for the Striper.

The place where Stripers will congregate the most at an out-suck of course is at the head or just outside the outer sandbar. Here they lie in wait to ambush their prey...sort of like a feeding station. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to place (cast) an offering beyond the outer sandbar as the distance is too great. However, the Stripers will come into the neck and even the near shore feeders of the out-suck when they are hungry (which is all the time) looking for prey... So optimally, you want to place (X) your offerings perhaps as follows...note, a very good area would be the ends of the sandbar which are sometimes called a shoulder...

clear.gifOut-sucks are hard to see at times, especially at water level... I'll climb a dune or stand on my truck to see better the water conditions. Also, out-sucks are more pronounce at or near low tide.

Finally, here are some pic's of out-sucks... Standing on a beach they could look rather subtle and therefore easily overlooked...

clear.gifBy: Rumble Fish aka Poppy on stripersonline.com

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great tutorial. Steve and i were talking about reading the water while fishing at Amelia Island a couple weeks back. it was obvious he had a lot more experience than myself in spotting the best areas to fish. it sure helps to see some good photo/diagram examples. thanks again.

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I think Poppy has been working on part 2 to this educational series. Amazing what taking your time and decphering whats really going on can tell you.

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Very good info. Once you know what to look for its fairly easy. Fishing a bay beach is the same but it just doesn't stand out as well. Great post

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